Q & A with Carmel Yonas: from sneakers to trophies


Used with permission from David Roberts

Running in the rain. Carmel Yonas sprints out the last few yards of the 3.1 mile-run. She crossed the finish line with a bright smile plastered on her face.

Maggie Craig, Associate Editor

16-year-old Carmel Yonas approached the starting line, her heart pounding in her throat before the race began. She took a deep breath and gazed down at her worn-out tennis shoes, watching the saturated terrain muddy her soles. Looking up at the dull, gray sky, light raindrops dotted her forehead and hair. She hated the rain. However, the determined sophomore shrugged it off and readied herself at the line, waiting for the shot to fire.

On Saturday, November 7th, at Carrollton High School, SFHS sophomore Carmel Yonas crossed the finish line in first place with an 18:48, crowning her the Individual Champion for the 7A girls division. Yonas, along with many other SFHS cross country runners, broke records for South Forsyth High School.

At the start of the race, Yonas and Gainesville junior Ashley Thompson were neck-in-neck sticking close to each other throughout the first half of the run. It wasn’t until the second lap when Yonas “made that surge” to secure her position in first place. Through the storm, Yonas continued to push herself forward enough to create a good gap between her and the Gainesville runner. When Yonas finished the course, she had a 17-second lead on Thompson, making her the clear victor of the race. Yonas’s victory gave South Forsyth their second Individual State Champion as she ended the drought for her high school. 

O & A:

Q: What sparked your passion for running?

A: My passion for running began in 6th grade when my mom signed me up. She had a vision that I could be an amazing runner, and from there everything unfolded into place.

Q: How did you feel at the start of the race?

A: I felt nervous, chilly because of the rain, and anxious about how the first half of the meet would go. 

Q: How did you prepare for the race mentally and physically?

A: I prepared with my team and did stretches, strides, and warm-up laps around the field. I reassured myself that I can be the state champion this year because I worked hard throughout the season. If I believe it enough, it is possible.

Q: When did you realize that you were going to win?

A: In all honesty, for the first 400 meters I was boxed in and had a hard time squeezing my way out. But, halfway through the second lap I pulled through and made my way to the front, passing number 1. It was at that point I realized I could win the state championships.

Q: What advice can you give to aspiring runners?

A: My advice to novice runners would be to always work hard, whether it might be achieving a personal record (time), winning in meets, or becoming state champion one year. Never let fear block your mindset, anything is possible with hard work and dedication will make your dream a reality.